Vol 16, No 2

An improved astrometric calibration technique for space debris observation

Rong-Yu Sun, Chang-Yin Zhao, Yao Lu


Abstract An optical survey is the main technique for detecting space debris. Due to the specific characteristics of observation, the pointing errors and tracking errors of the telescope as well as image degradation may be significant, which make it difficult for astrometric calibration. Here we present an improved method that corrects the pointing and tracking errors, and measures the image position precisely. The pipeline is tested on a number of CCD images obtained from a 1-m telescope administered by Xinjiang Astronomical Observatory while observing a GPS satellite. The results show that the position measurement error of the background stars is around 0.1 pixel, while the time cost for a single frame is about 7.5 s; hence the reliability and accuracy of our method are demonstrated. In addition, our method shows a versatile and feasible way to perform space debris observation utilizing non-dedicated telescopes, which means more sensors could be involved and the ability to perform surveys could be improved.


Keywords techniques: image processing — space vehicles — astrometry — methods: data analysis

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